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5 budget laptops for college students: We name the best

Michael Brown | Aug. 20, 2013
Being a cash-strapped student requires making a few hardware compromises, but a nice notebook is still within reach.

Like the Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch, the Toshiba Satellite L55Dt-A5253 provides a single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter that limits you to accessing overcrowded 2.4GHz networks; worse, the Toshiba's Realtek RTL8188SU supports a maximum physical link rate of just 150 mbps, whereas the Lenovo's Intel adapter delivers a 300-mbps maximum link rate and support for Intel's WiDi media-streaming technology.

Though the Satellite bears a DTS Sound logo, I found its audio capabilities wanting. Music sounded thin and flat, with very little of the oomph I crave from bass response. Stick with headphones, and you should be fine. Finally, this may reflect my right-handed bias, but I found it odd to access the Satellite's DVD burner on the left side of the computer. The hardwired ethernet port--100 mbps max--is located here, too.

The Satellite L55Dt-A5253 is a well-built laptop that delivers good performance, but many of its drawbacks don't show up in its benchmark numbers: It's weighs 5.6 pounds, its off-axis viewing is abysmal, and it has third-rate wireless networking capabilities. Clearly, it's not the best notebook in this collection, but it's still a decent value.

Pros

  • 15.6-inch touchscreen display
  • 750GB hard drive
  • Rigid construction

Cons

  • Poor off-axis viewing
  • Weak networking features
  • Uses 1333MHz memory

Bottom line 

Toshiba's mainstream notebook won't launch you into orbit, but it is a solid value.

Rating 

3 stars

 

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